Saturday, January 25, 2014

My Two Favorite Rush Songs


 I've been a Rush fan since 1984.  The combination of keyboards, drums, guitar, and bass were so balanced and complimentary I was transfixed at age 14 and ever have been.  These are my two absolute most favorite songs and haven't faltered since I was 15.  Both have similar themes.

Middletown Dreams from the 1985 album Power Windows is a song about desperation of those who live in suburbia and have boring lives, yet yearn for more.  It was a B-side and never a single, though it's played occasionally live in concert as recently as last year.  Neil Peart, the drummer and lyricist admits it's not a song of sadness, but of hope.  He believes they will aspire enough to leave their small little town.  It called to me when I was 15, and I knew it was my destiny to move on from the little town of Methuen, Massachusetts to greater things, and I did.


"Middletown Dreams"

The office door closed early, the hidden bottle came out.
The salesman turned to close the blinds; little slow now, a little stout.
But he's still heading down those tracks, any day now for sure.
Another day as drab as today is more than a man can endure.

Dreams flow across the Heartland, feeding on the fires.
Dreams transport desires; drive you when you're down.
Dreams transport the ones who need to get out of town.

The boy walks with his best friend through the fields of early May.
They walk awhile in silence, one close, one far away.
But he'd be climbing on that bus, just him and his guitar.
To blaze across the heavens like a brilliant shooting star.

The middle aged Madonna calls her neighbor on the phone.
Day by day the seasons pass and leave her life alone.
But she'll go walking out that door on some bright afternoon
To go and paint big cities from a lonely attic room.

It's understood by every single person who'd be elsewhere if they could.
So far so good, and life's not unpleasant in their little neighborhood.


They dream in Middletown.

A little light symbolism with "early May" meaning a young adult by calendar means.  Late spring in life.  I used to think the boy's best friend was his guitar, which was close to him, but his "dreams" made him seem far away.  The crescendo chorus with strings was very poignant to me back then and grabs the attention, and it ends on a weird chord.  Am7 I think.  Weird to me anyway.  It leaves you thinking that it's not quite the end, there's something more afterwards, that their dreams are not the end of it all.  I love this song for its arrangement, chord choice structure, lyrics, basswork drums, everything.  It's pretty much a perfect rock song, including the initial frustrated guitar solo yielding to a fading dream-like soaring.  Serendipitous or not, it's brilliant in every way.  A perfect song by this bard.

The Analog Kid came earlier in 1982 off their very-popular-in-the-Midwest album, Signals as the second track after the impressive Subdivisions first song which is very heavily saturated in keyboards as was many progressive rock songs of the late '70s and early '80s.  Rush got a lot of heat for changing up so quickly after their hugely successful multi-platinum album, Moving Pictures a year earlier.  Rush toured the United States' Midwest very thickly and the entire album got a LOT of airplay there in 1982 and 1983.  Anyone in their 30's or 40's can attest to that, and most anyone from there will know the entire album by-heart from FM-radio brain-washing dominance.  The Analog Kid was the only real "rocker" (arguably) on the album with almost no keyboards except for the dream-sequence chorus portions.  Again, a song about a youth longing to find something else; to move on.  A bit of possible symbolism here and there, the guitar solo is one of the most frustration-emulating solos I've ever heard, full of impatient youth and nervous energy depicted by the character portrait. 


"The Analog Kid"

A hot and windy August afternoon has the trees in constant motion.
With a flash of silver leaves as they're rocking in the breeze.

The boy lies in the grass with one blade stuck between his teeth.
A vague sensation quickens in his young and restless heart,
And a bright and nameless vision has him longing to depart.

You move me, you move me
With your buildings and your eyes,
Autumn woods and winter skies.
You move me, you move me.
Open sea and city lights,
Busy streets and dizzy heights.
You call me, you call me.

The fawn-eyed girl with sun-browned legs dances on the edge of his dream.
And her voice rings in his ears like the Music of the Spheres.

The boy lies in the grass, unmoving, staring at the sky.
His mother starts to call him as a hawk goes soaring by.
The boy pulls down his baseball cap and covers up his eyes.


Too many hands on my time, too many feelings.
Too many things on my mind.
When I leave I don't know what I'm hoping to find.
When I leave I don't know what I'm leaving behind...

I just love that solo.  August always gave me a restlessness and the image is the same as the boy's, the trees in constant motion, gotta move on, gotta get goin'.  August, for me and many, was right before September when school started in Massachusetts.  Soon the leaves would turn color and die away for the winter.  The image states if you don't do something soon, it'll be too late.  Better move now while there's energy!

The "blade stuck between his teeth" can be a metaphor, or not.  Your choice.  I always thought of Huckleberry Finn in this image with a blade of grass, but it could be a knife.  It suggests while he lies in the grass, the blade is the same, as a farmer boy might do, sucking on it absent mindedly, dreaming.  He feels a "quickening" I'm familiar with, a powerful restlessness here as well.  It seems to me the boy is not in a city, though he dreams of it in the chorus.  It calls to him from afar.  We assume it's not where he is now, lest he just stay put.  I'd say a country boy for sure.

The "fawn-eyed girl" is exotic.  She doesn't exist in his physical world.  These type of women usually live in Caribbean places, or Europe, such as Italy, or Asia.  Not here.  This is apparent.  The "Music of the Spheres" reference is excellent.  Also known as "Musica Universalis" or "Harmony of the Spheres" was something I learned about in high-school at the time.  Identified by Pythagoras and accepted by Plato, it was assumed that certain celestial bodies went around the Earth by way of "spheres".  These would grind and rotate about the earth like a puzzle-box.  The grinding produced music similar to when you rub a wet finger over a glass full of liquid to create a shimmering pitch.  It's far more likely that both suffered from tinnitus, but it's cool anyway.  The fact that it's "ringing in his ears" indicates it won't go away, a distant hum, not unlike tinnitus affliction that calls to him like Sirens from Homer's The Odyssey

His mother calling him, yet he ignores her and purposely blinds himself with a symbol of his individuality (a baseball cap) is an excellent reference to a boy becoming a man, growing up, and listening to his own call.  It happens to every boy (mostly) where they eventually move on.  He chooses to listen to the dream, the future, than safety, his mother, and the past.

I love the last lines.  Doesn't know what he's hoping to find, and doesn't know what he's leaving behind either.  Ah, such is Life!  You don't realize what you have until it's gone, nor can a youngster appreciate it through transcendence.  There isn't enough wisdom in a boy's heart to know he's leaving such good things behind, and though the future, what lies before him if he leaves home is unknown, it's beyond even his wildest dreams and fears.  Despite all the uncertainty, it's assumed he chooses to move on, to embrace Life.
I've understood both these songs on a molecular level.  Choosing what's behind "Door Number 3" instead of the perfectly okay but bland "toaster oven" in the game-show Let's Make a Deal makes a lot of sense to me.  I lived it.  I didn't have much to lose at the time, and I took the "leap of faith" by leaving home and joining the USAF and to lands unknown.  By now I consider myself somewhat "worldly", seeing a both equal shares of good and bad.  What propelled me was that stirring that apparently surprisingly few people have.  It was enough for me to launch myself ahead and take flight, and I like to think I did rather well for myself all things considered.  I certainly missed the things I left in Methuen, and still do sometimes, but the rewards are sweeter still.  Sometimes it confuses me that others don't have that bravery (or stupidity, whichever).  I'm glad I did, and these two songs are my anthem, and always will be.

Please consider listening to the LIVE versions if you're interested.


Friday, January 24, 2014



  Provenge is a drug that is supposed to help with prostate cancer issues.  Here's a blurb from Wiki:

Actual Provenge pamphlet cell for Sipuleucel-T.

Sipuleucel-T (APC8015, trade name Provenge), manufactured by Dendreon Corporation, is a therapeutic cancer vaccine for prostate cancer (CaP). It must be prepared specifically for each patient. In metastatic prostate cancer, it has extended survival by median 4.1 months (IMPACT Phase III trial data). The treatment costs $93,000.

  Side-effects are quite mild so it's no big deal, but what interests me is the commercial titled "Tools" that Dendreon Corp. put out.  It depicts an old man doing.. things.  Family things.. sort of.  It's been playing quite a bit and I'm at a workplace that often shows it though without sound, mostly because the people I work with are mildly autistic with acute Asperger's (seemingly) and can't focus a lot of times because the person talking in the TV is apparently distracting... SQUIRREL!

  Interestingly, local bars also have a lot of the same type of people who want to spend 10 times as much for the same booze, as they'll play sporting events soundlessly.  I don't understand the lure of a "bar", though I've tended one for a short while.  They almost never have anything high-quality and charge as if it's liquid platinum.  Well, you do get to sit with a bunch of loser drunks I guess, and get to pay $5 for a game of broken-billiards missing 3 of the balls, table at a tilt, and damn-near felt-less.

  So I'll point-out the sections of this Provenge commercial, "Tools" and you might be able to see what I see.  It's clear that the intent was to show an older gentleman needed around the house and represents a strong, still-helpful figure, but.. I see something else.  Please enjoy:


  Okay, so let's break-down this video.  I recommend re-watching it with no sound.


Act I - The Betrayal


0:00 to 0:06 - Elderly fellow we'll name "Falcor the Destroyer" grabs a monkey-wrench and pretends to tighten a bolt for a seat on a girl's bike.  We'll name her, "Jennifer".  It's an odd place for a monkey-wrench amongst fixed-wrenches.  Odd he doesn't have the right size wrench for the job and has to resort to an adjustable one.  He seemingly does it once and slaps the seat (which is uselessly off-canter for a rough, awkward ride), and Jennifer looks happy at first as if to say,

"Good, Falcor the Destroyer!  My bike's seat is fastened and in-place.  Something I could have done but, well, you do need to feel useful I guess, ever since you destroyed the Andromeda Galaxy which scientists won't notice until 2.5 million years from now due the speed of light from an Earthly observer."

0:07 - 0:11 - Jen takes a second, more critical look at the bike with a pensive face.  Notice her focus is not on what Falcor has just completed, and her gaze is past the front wheel.  She's thinking.  She knows something is up.  Falcor is dangerous.  She looks up to him, incredulously as if to say,

"Did you sabotage this seat?  You didn't tighten anything!  You just pretended to tighten it.  Are you seriously going to call that good?  I'm only 6, after all, and I can tell that you're retarded." 

Falcor's mysterious, though undoubtedly devilish plan is thwarted and he simply grins, then begins to seemingly actually tighten... something, though it's just a peg, which you can't tighten.

The bike has holes to adjust the seat via a spring-loaded peg-system (like gym equipment), so the effort is obviously a ruse, and Jen knows it.  She's been down this road before.  She'll fix it once he wanders off, but wonders why he goes into the house, and decides to stick around.

Act II - The Murder

0:11 - 0:16 - Old lady, (seemingly Mrs. Falcor, but it's not.  There never was a Mrs. Falcor.  Ever.) could be anyone.  Some victim woman we'll call "Marcy".  Perhaps Falcor has invaded the domicile?  Falcor the Destroyer is using a pipe wrench on an apparently leaky pipe, though it's obviously water condensation not requiring repair.  Falcor then turns the wrench below the drain's flange-nut, turning absolutely nothing.  He's faking it, obviously.  Nothing is being tightened here (just as before, in the previous act).

0:17 - 0:19 - Marcy smiles, thinking the sink is fixed, but her eyes change, oh so subtlety, to that of dread.  She saw.  The smile nearly unperceivably sags. Marcy can't let him know, but she knows what's up, and decides to play along for now.  Marcy hopes she can fool him long enough to call the police, or NASA.  God help her.  Obviously he's up to something diabolical.  The way his eyes flicker different colors in the light when it hits them just right.  The smell of sweat evaporating like arsenic from his elbows.

0:19 - 0:23 - Dishes are washed but Falcor won't relinquish the last dish, which oddly wasn't dirty and isn't even wet despite a sink full of clean, soapy water.  A rogue dish, but a message.  He's seemingly indicating, "You won't live to see the dawn." with his forceful nature.  Their eyes meet.  He knows!  God he knows!

Perhaps he's saying, "I own you.  Don't think I don't know that you know!"  Falcor grabs that carefully placed pipe-wrench he faked-using next to the coffee pot on the right, off-screen.  After this tense scene, she's bludgeoned to death.  Murdered.  A hard, merciless crack to the skull was all it took, and he drags the body into the basement.  Blood trails down to the cellar.  Too easy.  Still, Falcor has to leave town, and pronto!  Fade to black.

Act III - The Breakdown

0:24 - 0:34 - His ancient, 1960's truck's battery is dead.  What a bad stroke of luck for Falcor.  At least it's near that diner.  A passing college student we'll name, "Timmy" helps him out with a jump.  Falcor is trying to get out of town, but Falcor thinks,  "Timmy... does he know?  How much has he seen?  Just play it off, Falcor.  Not one more life.  No one knows.  Yet.. one last look.  No.  The boy's eyes give it away as he drives off.  That meal at the diner will be his last!  He'll know the wrath of the Ancients!"

 Falcor will have to follow him and take him out.  Timmy just shouldn't have looked to the side.  That tell-tale glance.  He'll have to die.  He's seen too much, know where Falcor's going.  Where he's been.  What he's done.  No witnesses.  Not this time.  Not again.

Act IV - The Revenge

0:35 - 0:38 - Falcor returns to Marcy's for the transponder.  Jennifer's on to Falcor though, and tries to make a getaway on her bike.  Falcor tries to stop her, trying to push Jen off, but he's weakened.  Marcy's blood was spotted by her and she had called 911 but was put on hold, the phone dangling off the receiver as she sees Falcor come back and tries to make a run for it.  After two murders in one day this is just too much for him.  He hasn't the strength.  This planet's atmosphere is making him weary.  So weary.  Not enough Argon.  So.. light-headed.  Must.. stop.. her..

0:39 - 0:48 - A neighbor, "Tiffany" helps the girl escape as the alien monarch, Falcor the Destroyer lumbers on like a drunken Sasquatch, mind numbed from the lack of nutrients his body produces from the argon/nitrogen mix.  "Run, little girl!" she cries inside, "It's too late for me!"  Falcor approaches, aggravated that Jen escaped, 

"No one will believe the little girl though.  Right?  She can get away.  She's just a child.  No one will listen to the children of this world.  Fools!   The neighbor will pay dearly, with her LIFE!" 

He places the knowing Hand of Fate on her shoulder, heavily and leaden with the gravity of death.  It will be the last thing she'll ever feel.  The weight of the Hand of Fate begins to crush her shoulder, and he's a bit sad he has to eliminate another human, but it's for a just cause.  The Manticore King will rejoice the mission is a success, if the Legion of Seven still retain power in the lower quadrant.

0:49 - 0:51Tiffany smirks in victory, thankful she's saved an innocent child's life again.  This time The Prophesy will come true.  Falcor's eyes indicate, "You know the price, oh so well."  Falcor almost relishes the events soon to come.  The cries of pain fill his heart with merriment.  It makes him feel alive, like back on Pollux IV, when the Consulate was executed for treason.  His cries filled the francium halls like an opera.  The Revolution wasn't a success though.  Not completely.  Too many had to die that night, so far away.  But here, if it wasn't for that lack of Argon in this puny world's atmosphere, he'd have more power to draw forth.  Her death will not be merciful nor swift.  Stupid bitch.

0:52 - 0:59 - But WAIT!  Marcy LIVES!  From the basement she drew herself to save both Jen and Tiffany.  Tiff was a nice girl next door.  She made her feel welcome with cupcakes when she arrived back last summer.  Marcy draws forth the powers of the Three Jewels from the Sapphire Galaxy and stabs the weakened Falcor in the back with a pairing knife encrusted with the gem, "The Light of Zar" she received as a gift from Prince Tyralix the Just and Tiffany makes a run for it!  She didn't think she could escape but Marcy's last, dying strength holds back the maleficent, evil Falcor the Destroyer and the Revolution of The Manticore King!  She inadvertently stabbed him in the secondary brain center, and he's stunned.  Earth will not fall victim to the alien menace THIS day!  She saves every one of us!  Stands for every one of us!  She exacts REVENGEANCE for all of us!  No.. Pro-Vengeance!


So welcome to my world.  This is what goes on in my head every day and night,  things like this.  I can't escape this room, but I invite you in... for tea.  At least it makes me laugh.  Glad Marcy, Jennifer, and Tiffany seemingly survived.  Can't say the Timmy faired as well though, but that's what he gets for being a wise-arse Generation Zero'er.  Such is the mystery of Life, on this world.

Watch the video again, above, with no sound, now that you've read my commentary.

I'm out kids.  Have a good night.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

America Is Getting Soft


  Today's Generation:  I'm not threatened by them.  I thought when I was younger that one day I would be overwhelmed by grand artisans who have been given the unfair advantage of historical improvement; that knowledge and experience would be exponentialized by the time I was older.  Nope.  Those who will replace me are dumb as stumps and have no skill whatsoever like empty corn husks rustling loudly in a field, dry with no substance, living only to consume, to fill that eternal void within like a desperate and ungrateful soul-sponge that returns nothing, not because of arrogance, but because they can't.

  I watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi finally, partially because I was pressed by a colleague.  I was going to watch it a bit ago but I allowed peer-pressure to drag me.  It's about an 85-year-old Japanese sushi chef and his sons and is mostly a documentary.  Sushi in Japan is alike to burgers, a bit low-quality in concept like a fast-food deal.  His is in the basement of a small building and seats about 9.  There's a one month wait to get in for a 15-minute meal (there's only one group for dinner, one for lunch).  His restaurant, about the equivalent of a burger-stand like Short Stop Burgers on Platte and Circle in Colorado Springs, or GoodTimes Burgers in Denver in near-microscopic in size, with a 10x10 prep-room.  Both his sons are apprenticed, the younger opened one of his own a few miles away, the older will, of course, inherit the first.  What's very amazing is that this little sushi stand has received a 3-Michelin Star rating.  There are only 106 current restaurants that hold this rating on earth, though in 2005 there was only 50.  Jiro's is one of them.  Both sons have been apprenticed since they were 19 years old and now they're in their 50's.  Jiro, the father, admits that in a few more years they'll be pretty good if they keep it up.  That's 30 years of making sushi, which is essentially a piece of fish on top of a smooshed rectangle of rice.  Quite compelling a movie about quality, something America loathes these days with iPods and mp3 files (and even CDs for the extreme audiophiles out there).  Americans enmasse prefer convenience over quality, choosing a microwave over a 40-minute oven-cooking ordeal 9 times out of 10.  What gripped me was that when the Michelin raters (a harsh bunch, mind you) reviewed the sushi, Jiro didn't prepare it, his son did.  In the background, you can see Jiro smirk just ever so slightly.  He has taught his son patients and quality.  Americans spit on this.  I don't though.

  I see weakness in the under-30 crowd and I suspect WW-II Veterans saw it with the youth they too saw, and it frustrated them as well.  I don't know a soul that changes their own oil besides myself under the age of 33 or even has an inkling as to how.    I'm not sure what the problem is, maybe life is just too easy these days for Americans?  I see an endless see of extreme laziness and a demand for money, power, fame, without any talent or hard work, and an extreme embrace of convenience over quality or effort.  My barber (female, who's actually quite good at cutting one hairstyle.. mine) was cutting my hair as we listened to her "mixtrack" off her iPhone of empty club music asked me what a socket-wrench was when I mentioned one jumped from the back of a truck and dented my Corvette's bumper this afternoon.  She's 24.  She is America, as is Lindsay Lohan, Miley Cyrus, and The Bieber.

  On YouTube, there was a heated argument I started (again) about some kid bragging about his "perfect gold trophy" on what I believe was Rogue Squadron II video game.  I watched it and it pretty much was an X-Wing battle during the Return of the Jedi battle at Endor, which, when I was 13 and saw in the movies seemed impossible.  I noticed that his rapid-fire approach of the "spray and pray" technique was lacking in skill, and that friendly ships were not affected.  It seemed pretty easy and I mocked him.  It went something like this:


Mike Cronis
How cute.  This is sort of a baby-easy version than the original "X-Wing" where there's no shield or energy management or communications for squadron orders.  And look!  No damage to your allies when you rapid-fire on the medical frigate.  Nice.. for babies.


mrblack58003's a fun game. Trust me, this level isn't as easy as it looks to get a gold medal. And some missions are virtually impossible to get gold medals on. It's a challenge, but it's FUN. Besides, who are you to be criticizing such a well-made game? The graphics are awesome, the game play is good,. the voicing is good, the story follows the Star Wars movies. And the game is 12 years old. Not that you would care since you say it's a baby-easy version.

+mrblack58003 Okay. Fun, sure.  Still, try X-Wing for a harder challenge. 

X-Wing is an old game. It's from 1994, I think? 1996? That's more for people who enjoy games like Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator on a harder level. I love combat flight simulator games, but X-Wing is just too low-tech and somewhat difficult for a lot of people. It's only fun if you actually have a chance of winning, not if you know you're going to lose.

Yeah, the spray and pray is ridiculous here. When I play Star Wars games like this then I always take snap shots like they describe in the books.

Ah, America has gotten soft. Shame. Gamers can't handle RPGs like the SirTech Wizardry series and escape by claiming it's too low tech and impossible to win. People won, son... and it meant something, and no trophies for perfect attendance.

Ah, well he got a bit silent after that, understandably.  Still, it bothers me that even in games, the youth have become more soft, and I suspect I am considered soft to those in their '60s, those Baby Boomers, and then they themselves soft to the WW-II Vets.  People don't get as dirty as they used to, or know hunger as much, or suffering as the previous generations.  Little pansy Nancy-boys that shave their chests and frolic like baby boo-boos in the temperature-controlled meadow.  I see these softies fall asleep on the job.  I see this little tykes cry in fear no better than an age 4 little girl, these "men".  (shaking head, ashamed).

  I suppose we all pass the torch to a softer hand, we Americans.  I just find the Generation Zero kids, and worse still, Gen Tens will not be able to handle Life whatsoever.  God forbid we get a Red Dawn invasion situation!  We'll all be speaking some other tongue I warrant.  Still, I got a little more "buck" in me and can still fight the good fight.  Though... maybe hardship is what Gen Tens need?  Gen Zero is lost.  Maybe Gen Ten wills save them?